Counseling Corner: School mornings don’t have to be chaos

American Counseling Association

Counseling Corner
Graphic by Robyn H. Jimenez/The Dallas Examiner

So what does the typical school morning look like in your house? Quiet conversation over a leisurely breakfast, everyone dressed and ready to depart on time, all their books, papers and lunch neatly packed and ready to go?

No? Not quite? More like a minor riot with lots of stress? If so, it’s time for a change.

There’s no magic way to guarantee that the bedlam that marks those getting ready for school times in too many homes will totally disappear, but there are steps to take to help minimize the school-morning frustration, stress and anger.

You can start by not blaming the kids for all the problems. Make it clear that you’re not happy with how you’re acting – you know, that yelling and lecturing virtually every day.  Tell them you want to change and you need their help in making it happen.

An important step is to give the kids more responsibility. A kitchen timer, for example, is a great way to help young children finish breakfast with time left to get dressed for school. For older kids, let them use an alarm clock, maybe on their phone, and have them agree to a “no-snooze-alarm” rule.

For both younger and older children, there have to be consequences, discussed and agreed to ahead of time, if they don’t stick to the time rules. They give up a favorite something if they slide back into the old ways. And you also need to set a consequence for yourself if you flip back into yelling and nagging to get them moving.

You can also make changes to move things along faster. No morning TV for starters and that cell phone can wait until after breakfast and getting dressed before it becomes the center of their lives.

Being more organized will also help. Have a designated place for backpacks and school books, and make sure they’re in place before bedtime. School clothes get laid out the night before. Have a special inbox for school papers that need to be signed. If your child forgets to put the papers there after school, consequences should kick in.

There’s no perfect cure to school-morning craziness, but making the kids shoulder more of the responsibility, and giving them a system to help make things more organized, can not only make that morning rush more civilized, but can also provide skills that will help them throughout life.


Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Comments and questions can be sent to or visit


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